MYRNAM - New Myrnam School, Myrnam Outreach and Home School Centre wrote a new page in their history on May 28 with their first-ever virtual graduation ceremony wrapping up a year that principal Adrienne Owen said was filled with “madness, mayhem, snafus and hullabaloos,” and one that left her wondering what to say in her principal’s address to the Class of 2021.
That question was answered by a little voice that said, “Mommy, let’s read ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’.”
A former elementary school teacher, she remembered that both she and her students back then had loved their read-aloud story times, and told the graduating class to gather around for “One last story time together as a class,” featuring Dr. Seuss’s classic, ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go’.
“Your mountain is waiting,” she told grads Aidan Clyke, Haili Maltais, Samantha O’Reilly, Madison Rea and Cynthia Schaap-James, as she turned the final page, “so get on your way.”
Although some may not agree with his philosophies, Owen feels the author was “best about not sugar-coating the dark parts of life. Dr. Seuss was a realist, a master at pointing out the hard parts of life.”
In the coming years, she told them, “You have too many bright places to go. Your own two feet will decide where your brain wants to go.” Some of those are “a lonely place where you must go alone; alone can be a scary place where you answer only to yourself. You will learn to listen to your own heart and make your own choices, and one foot at a time; you will come out the other side to enjoy the highs… Now, pack your heads and shoes for the journey.”
St. Paul Education Regional Division school board trustee Ruven Rajoo brought the class congratulations from the board telling “how proud all of us are of your success in one of the most challenging school years ever, on so many fronts.” He added thanks to staff and parents and told the grads, “What you have accomplished is truly remarkable. You have earned our respect and admiration; you are without a doubt our future leaders and role models.”
Myrnam Mayor Donna Rudolf was formerly a teacher at New Myrnam, and spoke of her memories of Madison and Aidan in their earlier years. Having attended many graduation ceremonies over the years, and heard many speeches, she advised the class “You can’t always follow your dreams, but if you can’t achieve your goal, change direction.”
Videotaped messages of congratulations and timely advice came from Fort Saskatchewan – Vegreville MLA Jackie Armstrong Homeniuk and Lakeland Member of Parliament Shannon Stubbs.
“This is a day we’ll remember for a long time,” valedictorian Madison Rea told her classmates, “whether we’ve been together since kindergarten, like Aidan and I, or just Grade 12, like Cynthia. It’s our first steps into the future, after a year literally full of surprises.” Samantha had joined the class in Grade 10 and Haili in Grade 11, and were part of the group in March 2019 “when the news came. Weeks turned into months,” all with challenges and shutdowns, but “You can’t keep us down. Whatever life throws at us, we can overcome. We’ve had the best education we could possibly have and our time at New Myrnam was well spent and full of memories and learning experiences.”
Haili Maltais gave the message to the staff, thanking them “for guiding us and setting us on our career paths, we will forever be grateful.” Leslee Morrison replied on behalf of the staff, recognizing the accomplishments of “five amazing graduates. We’re proud of your accomplishments. The past year and a half has been a challenging time but it didn’t keep you from succeeding.”
Grade 11 students Lucas Dubelt and Jaeanna Saskiw offered a tribute from “the next generation of grads. You have set a great example and have made a tremendous impact on us,” before accepting the torch passed by Samantha O’Reilly.
Samantha also offered thanks to the parents, “Our biggest fans since Grade 1, and we want to remember the love between parents and children.” Parents were unable to be on hand in person, but were able to send their congratulations via videos.
The ceremony finished with a slideshow presentation followed by graduates being presented certificates as they came across the stage in cap and gown.